Monday, May 12, 2008

Pick Up a Pebble and Fight

I prayed recently with a woman whose battle far exceeds any I've known--that of an addiction. Knees planted before the feet of her Father, she cried out to Him for deliverance from something so large she could no longer wrestle it alone. Like the vines of wild roses that overtook my mother's flower bed, this had worked its way into every aspect of her life--a life that was meant to bring God honor and glory. A soldier downed, but not defeated. There, on her knees she became like a bucket at the mouth of the spicket of God's grace and His grace flowed and flowed. There have been many I've known whose Goliaths have come to them in the form of addictions--prescription drugs, meth, food, pornography, internet, blackberries, work, exercise, alcohol. These kinds of attacks don't come just to gangly teenagers dressed in black wearing combat boots and eyeliner. These, more often than we realize are the Goliaths of moms, dads, brothers, sisters, uncles, grandparents--you and I kinds of people. And slowly over time they strip people of any signs of life. Where once there was laughter, promise and joy there is a barren desert that lays over their faces and souls like particle board over broken windows of abandoned buildings. Hope is gone. No one is home any longer. Soldiers fallen left and right--many right in front of us and we never knew. At least one in every eight Americans will battle drug or alcohol addiction and over 40% of internet users view porn on the internet with 372 users searching porn every single second of the day! Just about one in ten Americans are addicted to some form of prescription drug. I could go on. But my point is simply that there are good people, sincere people who are facing things in their lives so significant that only God Himself can free them and restore hope. Referencing only addictions, let me not forget the other things--illness, unfaithful spouses, indifferent spouses, angry children, depression, financial ruin. We know the giants that come trudging through our front yard calling out in loud voices, Come out and fight me. Face me and see if I don't take you and your family down. And so often, they do. I have lived to see the truth of the statistic that one in every two marriages will end in divorce and I have wept at the enemy's lethal blows to families and children. It's time. It's time we fall on our knees before God and then stand up filled with the power of heaven and fight. Listen to God's promise in Isaiah 35. Before I begin, let me just say that this is typically referred to as a Messianic chapter and it is obviously both relevant to the Israelites at that time as well as related to when Christ came to earth and when He will return. However, my point in quoting this passage here to to remind us that the very same God who carries these things out both in the past and in the future is present in our lives NOW, and it is before Him that we can go and plead our case and the cases of those we love just as the woman I prayed with did recently. Let the desert and dry region be happy; let the wilderness rejoice and bloom like a lily! Let it richly bloom; let it rejoice and shout with delight! It is given the grandeur of Lebanon, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the grandeur of the Lord, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the hands that have gone limp, steady the knees that shake! Tell those who panic, "Be strong! Do not fear! Look, your God comes to avenge! With divine retribution he comes to deliver you." Then blind eyes will open, deaf ears will hear. Then the lame will leap like a deer, the mute tongue will shout for joy; for water will flow in the desert, streams in the wilderness. The dry soil will become a pool of water, the parched ground springs of water. Where jackals once lived and sprawled out, grass, reeds and papyrus will grow. A thoroughfare will be there--it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it; it is reserved for those authorized to use it--fools will not stray into it. No lions will be there, no ferocious wild animals will be on it--they will not be found there. Those delivered from bondage will travel on it, those whom the lord has ransomed will return that way. They will enter Zion with a happy shout. Unending joy will crown them, happiness and joy will overwhelm them; grief and suffering will disappear. (Isaiah 35: 1-10) I can't and won't make the promise of deliverance in this life because God's Word actually says in this world we will have troubles. He doesn't always heal, cure, or free us from the giants in our lives, but he will always make a way through them. (Think Red Sea. God didn't obliterate it. He caused a path through it and ever single step they took, those Israelites were still surrounded by it on both sides) Amidst our greatest battles God's glory is at stake and He is very concerned about His glory and reputation. This is critical because God's Word says "The victory is mine when the battle is the Lords." Whatever you are facing, this battle is not yours, it is God's to win. I don't know what Satan is throwing at you, but whatever it may be, go at it like David when he said "You come at me with sword and spear and javelin. but I come against you in the name of the Lord..." (I Samuel 17:45) You, my friends are facing life with the God who takes giants out with pebbles. We are fighting battles with the God who pours streams of living water into the deserts of our lives. He forms blossoms where once there were thorns. If you've gone weak, if you've faltered, if you're afraid, alone, hurting, then you must know that the Divine Deliverer is present and working in your life. Stand strong, my friend. Do not give up, give in, quit, stop, lay down and die--this battle is being fought as I write these words in the heavenly realms and you will see the deliverance of the Lord. So many of us just give up. We figure God can't work in our lives--something's wrong with us. Many of us just quit God in general--He just never worked out for us. Casualties in a war not our own we throw in the towel because standing is too hard. Christianity's not for the weak of heart and victory in this life may be a daily choice for the rest of our lives. While it's true that there are those who receive some miraculous deliverance after being prayed over or having some type of epiphany, more often than not, deliverance lies in the moment by moment choice that God is more powerful than that thing that we face. And tomorrow we will face again. And again. And again. But, if in our hearts we know the truth that God came to set captives free than the overflow will be a life lived in victory despite ongoing battles. Goliath may come knocking every single day for the rest of our lives, but God's not running short on pebbles. Pick one up, my friend and stand firm. Your God is greater. With love, S Read with Me: II Peter 1:3, Galatians 6:9, II Corinthians 4:8,9, 16-18, Isaiah 45: 15, 21b, 22, 24, Psalm 55:16

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